Census - Demand a short form if you got a long form? Will this work ???

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It just occurred to me that maybe one way that people who have the misfortune of receiving a Census Long Form instead of the shorter version might avoid answering all those offensive questions could be to demand a Short Form.

In this way they could maintain that they are not refusing to provide the basic information required for the Census, but are rather demanding equal treatment under the law, and relief from the burdensome, invasive, Long Form questions.

If this request is denied, maybe they could answer only those questions that appear on the short form and use the "equal treatment" argument as a defense if a fine is levied.

It would also keep those phone lines and bureaucrats at the census bureau busy for quite a while.

I managed to evade the Census-taker for quite some time during the last Census, but found that they never give up. They must get paid for every time they come looking for you, not based upon whether or not they find you.

What do you all think about this? Is this worth a try, or will it more likely prove useless, or even worse, problematic?

-- Flash (flash@flash.hq), March 16, 2000


We seem to have some pretty good legal scholars here who can probably advise. What is the potential with respect to the census, long form, of a test case in court, on the constitutionality of some of the questions? Any potential for a class action?

-- suzy (suzy@nowhere.com), March 16, 2000.

i got the long form and will not return it fully completed. no way!! i called the hotline and they said i do not have an alternative to fill out the short form. however, what would keep me from simply going on the web site and filling out a short form? ooops. my other one must have gotten lost in the mail?

-- tt (cuddluppy@aol.com), March 18, 2000.

How about some additional enlightened opinions (even conjecture) on this folks? I know we have some legal-eagles that often drop in. My 76 year old mom got a long form and doesn't want to fill it out, either.

The idea of printing off a short form and sending it in might work. Is it possible to print one? If so, from where?

I wonder if filling out a copy of a short form and sending it in lieu of the long one that was sent to your address would satisfy the legal requirents if you are fined? After all, you have provided the Census with the basic information they need.

-- Flash (flash@flash.hq), March 18, 2000.

I received the short form, but had been thinking about what to do if I had gotten the long (or really long) form instead. I might have tried politely explaining why I was uncomfortable with many of the questions on the long form.
If they said the information would be kept confidential, I would have asked how that could be guaranteed.
If they then said that there haven't been any breaches of this confidentiality, I would have cited some of the evidence cited on this forum.
If the person still insisted on my filling out the long form, I would have asked to speak to a supervisor, and put that person through the same wringer. If necessary, I would then have asked for that person's supervisor.

Wearing out a bunch of bureaucrats isn't easy, but eventually they might agree to a compromise (i.e., filling out the short form) just to get you out of their hair.

-- David L (bumpkin@dnet.net), March 18, 2000.

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